SDSU photos: Above, South Dakota State University junior Anthony Miller, left, of Dell Rapids and senior Gabriel Heller of Aberdeen test a rain barrel designed to catch runoff from gutters so the water can be used for gardens and flowerbeds. On March 4, the two landscape architecture students will tell legislators how green infrastructure can help manage stormwater runoff. Below, Karl Vallin, a senior food science major at South Dakota State University, uses an enzyme to create microscopic pores in starch granules that will then be used to encapsulate curcumin, a powerful antioxidant compound from turmeric roots. The Eagan, Minnesota, native will describe his research to South Dakota legislators at the Student Poster Session March 4 in Pierre.

South Dakota State University undergraduate students will tell legislators about landscape architecture and food science research at the Student Poster Session March 4 in Pierre.

Junior Anthony Miller of Dell Rapids and senior Gabriel Heller of Aberdeen will explain how their landscape designs integrate green infrastructure, such as rain gardens, retention ponds and swales, to help manage stormwater runoff in Brookings.

Food science major Karl Vallin, a senior from Eagan, Minnesota, uses corn and potato starch to encapsulate curcumin so it can be added to food products, such as breads. Curcumin, a powerful antioxidant compound in turmeric, helps reduce inflammation and may help prevent diabetes, cancer and obesity.

Controlling runoff

“Green stormwater infrastructure uses soil and plants to capture water in a distributed, disconnected network of practices throughout the landscape,” said landscape architecture instructor Jeremiah Bergstrom, who supervised the students’ design work. The project is supported by a grant from the California Landscape Architectural Student Scholarship Fund and matching funds from the East Dakota Water Development District.

“This presentation will allow us to tell people what landscape architects do and help us persuade legislators that green stormwater infrastructure is a viable means of controlling runoff all over the state,” said Heller.

“It looks good and it’s very functional as well as cost-effective,” said Miller, who redesigned a commercial property. “A lot of silt and pollutants are captured when the water runs through a garden.”

The students’ what-if design projects “give residents, businesses, developers and city officials a visual on what the various ‘tools in the green infrastructure toolbox’ could look like,” Bergstrom said. Students presented their designs at a Nov. 14 Stormwater Community Forum hosted by SDSU Extension and the Brookings Sustainability Council.

With higher-than-normal precipitation expected, Heller and Miller agree these design techniques could shape the future of stormwater management in Brookings and, perhaps, in other South Dakota communities.

Using starch to deliver curcumin

When Vallin came to SDSU three years ago, he knew he wanted to do undergraduate research. When he interviewed assistant professor Srinivas Janaswamy for his first-year seminar class, he recalled, “I straight up asked him.” Vallin, who graduates in May, has been working in Janswamy’s lab ever since.

“We are enriching foods with health-promoting and disease-preventing compounds, such as curcumin,” Janaswamy explained. The project is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch funding through the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and Vallin’s work is made possible through the Orville and Enolia Bentley Undergraduate Research Award.

“The starch acts as a delivery system and masks curcumin’s bitter taste,” Vallin explained. First, he uses an enzyme to create microscopic pores on the starch granules. The pore size influences the amount of curcumin absorbed, Vallin said. Next, he dissolves varying amounts of curcumin in ethanol and adds the treated starch granules.

After two weeks, Vallin filters the starch from the solution and dries it. Finally, he determines how much curcumin was absorbed and how much time it takes for the compound to release using a spectrophotometer.

“We want a slow release, possibly for more than two to three hours, because we want to increase its bioavailability in the gastrointestinal tract,” Vallin said.

Once the researchers have optimized the release time, the next step will be to figure out the best way to incorporate the compound into food products.

COURTESY OF: SDSU Marketing & Communications

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